2022-12-20T13:30:23-05:00Dec 29, 2020|

How to set goals and plan for your success in Canada

Most immigrants who choose to move to Canada have a dream, a vision, and aspirations for their future life. It is what motivates them to leave behind their comfort zone, friends, and family and move miles away to a foreign land to start a new chapter of their life. 

As a newcomer, the things you hope to accomplish in Canada can be tied to individual goals that are usually broadly related to your life in general, your career, or finances. Outlining or defining your goals clearly and adding an approximate time frame when you would like to accomplish them will set you off on a definitive path to making your dreams come true. It’s even better if you spend some time doing this exercise pre-arrival or during your initial months in Canada.  

In this article, we will dive deeper into how goal setting can be beneficial to you and your family. We’ll also explain the process of setting goals and guide you through achieving them.  

Why is goal setting important for newcomers?

Goal setting is a powerful process for planning your ideal future and motivating yourself to turn that vision into reality. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve enables you to outline a path to accomplish your goals. It keeps you on track and clarifies where you should focus your efforts. 

As you start building your new life in Canada, you generally need to plan for various things such as finding a job in your field of work, finding a permanent place to stay, perhaps buying a car, for some, starting a family etc. No matter how big or small your goals are, proper planning can help you organize your thoughts, prioritize the important tasks, and outline concrete steps to realizing the goals – all within a realistic timeline.   

How to set goals as a newcomer in Canada

As a newcomer, you’ll notice that your goals can largely be categorized into the areas of life, career, and finance. Outlining them by category is a good way to start the goal-setting exercise. Be sure to have a good mix of easy and difficult goals so you don’t feel demotivated.

Next, divide your goals into three categories based on the timeline that you expect to achieve them: 

  • Short-term goals (less than one year); 
  • Medium-term or mid-term goals (between one to three years); and 
  • Long-term goals (between three to 10 years).

As you do this activity, ensure that you consider the larger picture and external factors, pay attention to your family’s needs and wants, and think practically. 

Setting life, career, and finance goals as a newcomer

To help you get started, here are some examples of newcomer goals. Your goals can be exclusive to one category or overlap between two or all three categories. 

Category Goal Example Timeline
Career “Every week, I want to meet at least one person for a virtual coffee chat through referrals or by finding professionals on LinkedIn from the marketing industry in Toronto so that I can grow my network and continue to find relevant opportunities.” Short-term
Finance + Life “In the next five years, I want to own a house within $500,000 to $700,000 CAD range in Surrey, BC, to start building some positive equity. To achieve this, I will need to save approximately 20-30 per cent for a down payment.” Long-term
Life “Once I find a job in my field, to give back to the community, each month, I want to mentor at least four newcomers and help them adapt to Canadian life.” Mid-term

Have a look at some goals that other newcomers had:

“My career goal is to grow my business while bringing positive change to my clients. I want to help teams work better together and help people become the leaders they want to be. I want to grow more on consulting startups and help them grow their teams. I want to be recognized for my expertise in training and development related to communication and leadership and in creating happy and healthy teams – all across Canada.”

Roxana Radulescu, moved to Canada in 2017

“My main goal when I left Jamaica was essentially to broaden my career horizons. I’m a software developer. We do software development back home but on a small scale. Most of the software we use we actually buy off the shelf, or at best, we customize. So I was looking to be more involved in writing software on a day-to-day basis and working on bigger software development projects that would have a greater impact. And that’s why I’m here.”

Princeton Ebanks, moved to Canada in 2018

“I feel proud to announce that I successfully achieved one of my short-term goals recently: I leased a car! Leasing a small car is inexpensive, so I was able to afford it with minimal savings and advance planning.”

Wendy Ma, moved to Canada in 2010

How to achieve your goals

The key to achieving your goals is to have discipline and be committed. Break down your larger goals into smaller, more attainable pieces. This will help you stay positive and focused. It’s also important that you set goals for yourself; don’t let others set goals for you – this is crucial to your success. And have clarity on what success looks like to you – whether it is 50 per cent completion or 100 per cent or a range. 

How to write goals: Use the SMART framework

The SMART framework is an effective way to define your goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. 

Specific Your goals should answer the five “W” questions: 

  1. Who – Include all the key individuals who will help you achieve your goal.  
  2. What – Define the core objective of your goal. 
  3. Which – Think about any criteria or constraints that need to be considered for you to successfully accomplish your goal.  
  4. Where – If location is a factor in achieving your goal, be sure to include it.  
  5. Why – Key reason or motivation for your goal.
Measurable Clear goals are always quantifiable and hence, measurable. Define the benchmarks and assign numbers to key performance indicators to measure success.
Achievable Goals should be attainable, practical and should be set considering the attitudes, abilities, skills, knowledge and financial capacity needed to achieve them.
Realistic Set relevant goals – ones that apply to your own scenario or context. A goal that supports your other goal(s) or one that aligns with your larger goal is considered realistic.
Time-bound Well-structured goals always include the element of time. Including target dates, deadlines, or due dates for all tasks associated with accomplishing your goal brings a sense of urgency in achieving your goal and encourages time management.

It also helps to define your fears and things that might happen if you fail to achieve your goals. Knowing that you have an action plan in place for a worst-case scenario will help you see the importance of why you need to achieve your goals and put your mind at ease so you can focus better on the outcomes.

Tip: Goal setting is not a one-time activity but a constant work-in-progress. Especially, as a newcomer, at times, you may realize that on the ground reality is different from what you imagined (for example, taking up a contract job before becoming a full-time employee), or you may need to adjust your timeline on some goals due to unforeseen circumstances, or your situation may have changed (for instance, perhaps you were planning on buying a home, but now you have a baby on the way and renting a bigger home is more of a priority). Therefore, it’s important to revisit and revise your goals periodically to ensure they align with your ambitions and dreams.

When you achieve a goal – big or small – be sure to reward yourself appropriately. This will motivate you to keep going and build self-confidence. Also, take a moment to analyze your achievement. If you achieved the goal easily, make your next goal more difficult or complex. Conversely, if this goal was hard, make the next one a little easier. Reflect on your learnings and apply them to other goals. If you experienced any challenges in achieving this goal, evaluate if you should set additional goals to address it. 

Read SMART goals for new Canadians: How to succeed with confidence to learn more about how to set achievable goals, look at some case examples, and get a free, downloadable, goal setting template from Arrive.

“Come to Canada with your goals in your mind and be prepared to change your strategy. Here, we have more opportunities for a better life. If you come with an open mind, you’re going to succeed. You have to believe in yourself because if you have a goal, if you can imagine something, you have to pursue it, right?”

Hannah Mendonça, moved to Canada in 2017

Goal setting can help us move forward in life by providing a roadmap to follow, providing a way to hold ourselves accountable, and helping us prioritize things that truly matter. It can be valuable in taking charge of your life, career, and finances, and thus, managing stress as you head into the new year.